Friday 22 August 2008

Want, need and happiness

Marketing guru Seth Godin posted an insightful Blog this week; most of his postings are good - this one spoke to me.

Titled "Destroying Happiness" the short posting questions why, when "most people have a better standard of living today than Louis XIV did in his day", are so many people unhappy?

Seth's response is thought-provoking: "What you have doesn't make you unhappy. What you want does".

Marketing has a role here because new versions of GPSs, bicycles, headlamps, trail shoes, outdoor wrist watches, clothing and other gear are presented as better, lighter, brighter, smarter, warmer, cooler must-haves.

This obviously not only applies to sporting equipment, but also to applicances, homes, furniture, supplements and food (this new rice is lighter, fluffier and tastier than the previous version); any commodity that can be purchased.

I'd even extend this principle to other avenues like where you live, the job you do and sporting results.

Change is good, new is great and wanting more and better is part of progress and advancement. But not every run has to be a high intensity speed session; enjoyment can come as much from a long slow run (something you have and need) as setting a personal best time (something you want).

Wednesday 20 August 2008

What does God have to do with an adventure industry conference?

A few weeks ago an email was forwarded to me about an adventure industry conference happening in the Drakensberg.

A paragraph in the conference invitation (general bulk invitation, not addressed to me personally) pushed my irritable button.
"I certainly look forward to see you at [venue]. May God in His Great and Awesomeness grant us the grace to again meet in such a way and that he will grant further favour on our new President the Venerable [John Doe] from [blah, blah, blah]."
I'm all for religious freedom and I'm quite happy for people to believe what they want; higher powers, fairies, Santa, Easter Bunny... But what has God have to do with an adventure industry conference? Surely people of different beliefs (and non-beliefs) will be attending? Is this a Christian, religious pow-wow or a conference about the adventure industry, one that is inclusive and accepting of all people?

People also sign their business emails with religious quotations and "God Bless". What does God, or Muhammad or the Flying Spaghetti Monster have to do with your work affairs (unless of course your business is a religious organisation).

What if the person to whom you're addressing your emails believes in a God different to yours? Or no God at all? Would you be offended if they signed their emails, "Wishing you a pleasant God-free day" or tagged "God doesn't exist" to their signature.

Part of religious freedom is about not blanketing others in your beliefs. Beliefs are personal and not everyone shares the same ones as you.

Stick to the topic and utter praise and songs of worship to your own God, in your own time and in your own place.

Sunday 3 August 2008

Would you buy a submarine?

I rarely read newspapers, especially the paper and ink kind. In browsing today's Sunday Times (I like to look at the pictures) I spotted a hooter.

One of the main stories is about the three German submarines bought by South Africa in 2006. They've got serious defects and one is currently in a dry dock at Simon's Town. This aside, it was a comment in the article that gave me giggles.
The Sunday Times proclaims that they have established that "The SA Navy only has enough crew to man two of the three submarines" and "As quickly as the navy trains submariners, they're poached by the private sector for higher salaries".

Now I know people do pilots licenses and that they buy small fixed wing aircraft or choppers. I also know that ex-military guys get employed in Afghanistan and Iraq on security detail for muchos dineros. But, I have been oblivious to the existance of a submarine private sector.

Do billionaires travel the World by sub?
Are private submarine owners, with their submariner crews, contracted by militaries to help them blow up other countries?

I think the trained submariners are too scared to tour the ocean's depths in these metal coffins. They've probably left the SA Navy to pursue other careers, like teaching children how to swim.